Saturday April 3, 2021 at 8:30 a.m., – Cannabis Research Institute of Khon Kaen University with the Research and Graduate Study and Research Administration Division organized an academic forum on, “Dreaming together for Thai hemp development”. Assoc. Prof. Charnchai Panthongviriyakul, M.D., President of Khon Kaen University presided over the opening ceremony and Prof. Dr. Monchai Duangchinda, Vice President for Research and Graduate Study made a reporting speech. Over 60 people attended including KKU administrators, interested individuals from many organizations and institutes, and enterprise groups. The opening ceremony took place at the hemp plantation, Vegetable Unit, Faculty of Agriculture. The forum itself was held at Sirikunakorn 3, Sirikunakorn Building, Office of the President, Khon Kaen University, with 10 exhibition booths presenting hemp products.
Prof. Dr. Monchai Duangchinda, Vice President for Research and Graduate Study reported, “The Cannabis Research Institute founded by Khon Kaen University has the major mission to perform research on hemp and cannabis for medical purposes and related industries. Khon Kaen University has been authorized to grow hemp (according to the Order No. 19/2563 issued in October, 2020). The total area for the purpose is 1,664 square meter at the Vegetable Unit, Horticulture Department, Faculty of Agriculture. The Cannabis Research Center received the variety from the Highland Research and Development Institute (Public Organization). The growing of hemp is aimed at using the hemp for research and developing hemp breeds for medical and related industrial purposes. The opening event or the planting of hemp was held on January 12, 2021. The other objectives are to enable interested people to learn about the plantation, request for being authorized and the use of hemps. Promotion of hemp plantation requires knowledge and understanding, and it must be done under the ministerial law, which states that the amount of Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) must not exceed 1.0% dry weight. Hemp growing therefore emphasizes distance between trees which should be closest to one another. This stimulates the growing of hemp to a straight and tall stalk over 2 meters high, bearing long segments. The fiber, stalks, seeds and leaves of hemps are to be used.”
Assoc. Prof. Charnchai Panthongviriyakul, M.D., President of Khon Kaen University said in his opening address, “The Cannabis Research Institute of Khon Kaen University has researched and developed cannabis and hemps for medical purposes both for man and animals as well as for related industries. The institute has conducted research into improvement of breeds, analyses of key matters, medicinal structures, and has performed clinical and veterinary research into the breeds of cannabis and hemps that can be used in medicine and relevant industries. Khon Kaen University, as an institute being first authorized to produce hemp therefore sees the importance to organize activities that can promote knowledge about hemps to communities, enterprises, governmental and private organizations so that they can develop hemps for other purposes. The research at the university has been conducted to improve the breeds and analyze important matters for medicinal purposes. The Institute will be the center to disseminate news and information to governmental and private organizations in Khon Kaen. KKU is prepared to establish a large hemp-industrial center, even though recently the use of hemp in medicine has been limited.”
……………“Presently, the development has greatly progressed. The seeds were brought from the North to grow here, where the topographical conditions are much different from the North. We are in lowland, with different temperature ranges and sunlight. However, after experimenting on the plantation, the outcome has been good. Normally, the leaf buds can be cut after 6 months, but in the Northeast, cutting can be done from 3 months, which could be due to the seasonal condition or sunlight. Our team is studying this aspect. The most important thing found is, even though the climate is different, the variety does not change. There has also been development of Thai breeds, both hemps and cannabis. It is expected that in one year, we will have the prototype breed in Khon Kaen that will be legally registered. Then, the breeds can be brought to grow anywhere in Thailand.”
……………“Moreover, the price in the market for selling hemp seeds can be 200,000 to 1,000,000 baht per kilogram, but the most probable price should be 200,000 baht. Now, there are many companies asking to buy hemp seeds, to join in investing and extracting for selling both domestically and abroad. Hemp can therefore be said to become a cash crop of the country.”
……………“For its benefits, the fiber on the stalk of hemp can be used to produce clothes. Normally, the hill tribe people make their clothes from hemp, for it also has special property. Wearing it in summer will reduce the heat and wearing it in the cold season will make people feel warm. Hemp has the insulation, and can also be mixed in light concrete blocks for house construction to help save the energy. It can also be used in manufacturing batteries, which can store 10 times more electric charge than lithium ion. We dream that if 4 million rais from the 10 million rais of sugar cane plantations can be changed to grow hemp, it should be economically good for the investors. However, there is the law condition that we have to observe, for the law does not allow any common people to grow hemp freely. Therefore, community enterprises may join with KKU in the future to produce adequate hemp for the market demand,” ended President Assoc. Prof. Charnchai.
After the opening session, the participants visited the plantation. Asst. Prof. Dr. Chanon Lapjit, the expert in hemp and cannabis growing and Khun Khru Nuansri Promjai, an art and craft teacher and the Chairman of the Saithong Community Enterprise producing hemp fiber gave a talk on the use of hemp fiber and its manufacturing.
……………In the afternoon at Sirikunakorn 3, Khon Kaen University, the event featured a forum on growing technique and system by 2 speakers: Mr. Winai Somprasond, an expert in plant variety protection, Department of Agriculture; Asst. Prof. Dr. Chanon Lapjit, a researcher and expert in hemp and cannabis growing from Department of Horticulture; another forum on “Implementing legal policy in the use of hemp as cash crops and requests for authorization” by Assoc. Prof. Pattapong Ketsomboon from Department of Community Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, KKU and Asst. Prof. Dr. Chanon Lapjit; and “medical and related industrial utilization of hemp” by Khun Cherdchai Ariyanuchitkul, pharmaceutical specialist, Deputy Public Health Officer of Khon Kaen and Khun Angsurat Yimlamai, Professional pharmacist from Khon Kaen Public Healh Office. Mrs. Benjamaporn Mamuk, Head of Communications Unit, Division of Communications was the moderator. The last talk was “How to cooperate with Khon Kaen University” by Prof. Dr. Monchai Duangchinda, Vice President for Research and Graduate Study.
……………Khon Kaen University is the first institution in Isan and in Khon Kaen to be authorized to grow hemp for research. The system has been planned in full cycle including the growing, the extraction and experimentation, all of which have been legally authorized. The experimented hemp and cannabis plantation is open for interested people to visit all day. The plantation will collect and compile the breeds that belong to Khon Kaen University and develop them into cash crop. KKU will join with interested community enterprises in growing under the condition of law.
The event on this day also included exhibitions at the booths to give knowledge to the public. There are presentations of products that contain hemp and cannabis.
News: Wachara Noichompoo
Photos: Natthapong Chamnan-ua